The Institution 

Deal Hudson has said that the Catholic Church is “the institution par excellence” and that in a “sense, the Church has become the Last Institution.”( For over two thousand years, the Church has taught, defended and institutionalized the natural law. As an institution, the Church is embattled in these days. All that she upholds is being challenged, mocked and persecuted. Her very right to hold and teach the Truth is being undermined, while those teachings are more needed than ever by confused and splintered families.

Even as storms bear down upon the Church from without, tremors are threatening within. There is discord where unity is necessary. However, Christ did warn that He came not to bring peace but the sword. (Mt 10:34) This is because some will choose to resist Him and the life of sacrifice and service to which He calls each of us. Some will choose hubris over humility, self-gratification over self-giving, trends over truths, setting loved ones against one another. 

The family has long been identified as the first institution. It is the family which is the basic cell of the body of any society, the foundation upon which every community and culture is built. It is in the family that members learn to love, to serve, to cooperate. The family is, in our modern era, more embattled an institution than it ever has been. The Church wants to foster respect for families and protect families, and to encourage families to live as domestic churches, where the faithfulness of Jesus is exhibited between spouses and modeled for children.  

The World Meeting of Families, a gathering held every three years since the first one was held in Rome during the International Year of the Family (1994), was established by Pope Saint John Paul II to bring into focus pastoral care of the family in the modern age. This global gathering comes to Philadelphia at the end of September, addressing “a wide range of family issues where our faith is both needed and tested. These are matters that affect families not only here in the United States but on a global scale,” Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap, has said. “So we want to focus…not just on the neuralgic sexual issues that seem to dominate the American media, but on things like the family and poverty, the family and addiction, the family and children with disabilities, the loss of a spouse, the effect of divorce and coparenting, health and wellness as building blocks to preserving the family, creating real intimacy between husband and wife, the challenges of raising children, the role of grandparents, the parish as a support community for families, and similar themes. And we want to involve the whole community in this celebration, which is why we’ve included Jewish, Mormon, Muslim and Protestant presenters on issues that we all share—regardless of confessional divides.”

The Church and the world needs the invigorating boost that can come of thousands of families learning, praying and celebrating together and then taking a renewed evangelizing energy back to their communities. Let us pray for the successful mission of the eighth World Meeting of Families and for families everywhere.
Nancy Arey
August 8, 2015
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